Tag Archives: crunch

France v Spain – watch it live for FREE

LIVE France v Spain: Watch the crunch clash in Group I as Les Bleus take on the world and European champions

PUBLISHED:

10:23 GMT, 26 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 26 March 2013

Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of what promises to be the game of the night as France take on Spain in Group I.

The French can take a huge step towards qualification for Brazil 2014 with a win over their near neighbours in Paris.

Victory would move them five points clear at the top with just three games to go and leave the reigning world and European champions staring at the prospect of a two-legged play-off.

The sides drew in Madrid last October and Spain followed that up by sharing the points with Finland on Friday night while Les Bleus eased past Georgia.

Sergio Ramos, on his 100th appearance for his country, captained Vicente del Bosque's side against Finland and led by example with the goal.

Karim Benzema, his Real Madrid team-mate, drew a blank in France's victory and will be out to make amends if he is given the nod after being booed by the home support for missing chances in the Stade de France.

***Full coverage will start at 8pm***

Live : France – Spain par ffftv

Andy Murray beats Grigor Dimitrov at Miami Masters

Murray survives early scare to see off 'Baby Fed' in straight sets and reach last eight

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

21:41 GMT, 25 March 2013

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UPDATED:

08:00 GMT, 26 March 2013

Andy Murray was given another look at the extravagant potential of Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov but still managed to surpress him to reach the last eight of the Sony Open in Miami.

Seeking to go one better than his runner-up berth last year at the same tournament, Murray was pushed all the way by the player who rejoices in the nickname of Baby Fed or Primetime before winning out 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 53 minutes.

The British No 1 needed to come back from 5-2 down in the first set and was constantly rocked by the fluent shotmaking of the 21 year-old world No 32, who has long been tipped as a future Grand Slam champion.

At full stretch: Andy Murray is through to the fourth round of the Miami Masters after winning 7-6, 6-3

At full stretch: Andy Murray is through to the fourth round of the Miami Masters after winning 7-6, 6-3

Kim Sears

Andy Murray

In the shade: Kim Sears watches on as partner Murray sees off Dimitrov in straight sets

Afterwards Murray
told www.atptour.com: 'It was obviously way cooler [with] much slower conditions. The ball wasn't going as quick. I was leaving the
ball a bit short.

'Once I started to improve my depth a bit, I made it tough for him and he started to make more mistakes after that.'

Probably the most gifted of an
emerging group that also features the likes of Milos Raonic and Bernard
Tomic, Dimitrov showcased his full array of strokes before losing out to
the superior consistency and toughness of the US Open champion.

With a flowing backhand to die for
the younger player's talent has never been in question, but he remains
notoriously nervous when it comes to the crunch moments, and that
tendency was to return to haunt him when he had the first set in his
grasp.

Grigor Dimitrov

Andy Murray

Outclassed: Grigor Dimitrov (left) was not match for Murray in their third-round clash

Less than two weeks ago he had the
opportunity to serve out the first set against Novak Djokovic in Indian
Wells but managed to send down four double faults in the attempt.

This time he had Murray on the ropes
at 5-3, 30-30 and the contributed three of the same thing – and the 25
year-old Scot rarely spurns such charity.

Dimitrov had gone 3-1 up, then been broken back, and then broken again to take advantage of an edgy start from Murray.

Baby Fed: Dimitrov's style has been compared to Roger Federer and he is said to be dating Maria Sharapova

Baby Fed: Dimitrov's style has been compared to Roger Federer and he is said to be dating Maria Sharapova

Grigor Dimitrov

Maria Sharapova

But when it came to the tiebreak the
world No 3 made him play one ball too many when it really counted and
he ran out a 7-3 loser.

There have been times when he has
capitulated in the second set against more experienced players but he
kept Murray on his toes, and the British No 1 often needed to be at his
best to cope.

Reunited this week with coach Ivan
Lendl, Murray requires a good performance in what is his second home in
the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to properly regain his
momentum post-Australian Open.

If he wins the event he is guaranteed to over take the former as world No 2. He next plays Italian number one Andreas Seppi.

Silver service: The British No 1 arrives in his new Aston Martin prior to today's third-round match

Silver service: The British No 1 arrives in his new Aston Martin prior to today's third-round match

Silver service: The British No 1 arrives in his new Aston Martin prior to today's third-round match

Montenegro stick boot into England over long balls and weak defence

England are SCARED of us! You complain about the pitch when you play long ball. You should forget about our fans and worry about your 'weak' defence instead, blast Montenegro

qualifier against England in Podgorica in 2011″ class=”blkBorder” />

Passion: Montenegro fans react after the Euro 2012 qualifier against England in Podgorica in 2011

Passion: Montenegro fans react after the Euro 2012 qualifier against England in Podgorica in 2011

Meanwhile, the president of Montenegro’s football association has begged his own supporters to behave during England’s crunch World Cup qualifier tomorrow night.

Dejan Savicevic awarded Mirko Vucinic with the Montenegro Player of the Year award at Podgorica but took the opportunity to appeal for good behaviour from his own fans.

The Montenegro FA were fined 30,000 for a pitch invasion the last time England visited Montenegro.

He said: ‘I would like our journalists in Montenegro to appeal to our fans to cheer on the team in a sporting manner.

‘During
the last year and a half, our association has to pay penalties for up
to 90,000 Euros we had to bear for the behaviour of our supporters on
this ground.’

Vucinic
himself said he did not believe there would be any crowd trouble
tomorrow night, saying: ‘I expect a beautiful, wonderful atmosphere.

'Our
audience is great and they lift us and carry us on their wings like a
12th player. I am only sorry the stadium is not larger.’

Asked
whether Montenegro will try to play on Rooney’s temperament and wind
him up to get him sent off, Vucinic said: ‘It will not be our tactics to
make him lose his temper.

‘It
will be in our favour if he is given a red card but we will not be
doing anything to provoke him or make him lose his temper.’

Doubts: Joleon Lescott is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling

Doubts: Joleon Lescott (above) is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling (below)

Doubts: Joleon Lescott is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling

Doubts: Joleon Lescott is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling

Vucinic added: ‘We feel well considering we played a difficult game in Moldova which we won with 10 men. This victory inspires us with self-confidence and hope against strong opponents like England who we are not scared of at all.

‘From the moment I run onto the field I think of victory. That is my way of thinking when I play in Italy and this is the way I think now. What I can say about tomorrow evening is that we keep fingers crossed for Montenegro to win but what we can say is that it will not be as big a thing as it will be if England fail.

'If England fail, it will cost them more. If I’m not wrong, they will be five points behind if they lose tomorrow.’

Tottenham v Inter Milan: Ref sent blind man"s stick by angry fans

Tottenham's ref is getting some stick! Angry Croatian fans send match official a white cane after he admits high-profile mistake… and he's in charge for Spurs match at Inter

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

15:15 GMT, 13 March 2013

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UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 13 March 2013

The referee of Thursday's Europa League match between Tottenham and Inter Milan has been sent a blind man's white stick by fans of Croatian side Hajduk Split after they were enraged by a contentious decision.

Ivan Bebek's call in a recent game between Split and Dinamo Zagreb frustrated supporters so much they sent a package to the Croatian Football Federation for the ref which included the white stick, a jersey and a Dinamo scarf.

The fans' club issued a statement saying: 'We apologise to blind people, we do not want to offend anyone, but just want to help the referee Ivan Bebek ahead of the game.'

Provocative: But the fan club insisted they did not wish to offend anyone

Provocative: But the fan club insisted they did not wish to offend anyone

Bebek admitted after the game on his Facebook profile that in hindsight he failed to call a clear penalty in favour of Hajduk Split.

The frustrated Split fans have now also forwarded on pictures of the package to Tottenham as a warning to them about the ref ahead of their crunch Europa League game.

Trusted: Ivan Bebek will overlook Spurs v Inter

Trusted: Ivan Bebek will overlook Spurs v Inter

Comfortable lead: Tottenham are 3-0 up to the third leg, in which Jan Vertonghen headed their third goal

Comfortable lead: Tottenham are 3-0 up to the third leg, in which Jan Vertonghen headed their third goal

Controversial Given the difficulty that can be involved in refereeing Gareth Bale, Ivan Bebek may be relieved he is suspended

Controversial Given the difficulty that can be involved in refereeing Gareth Bale, Ivan Bebek may be relieved he is suspended

From the spot: Steven Gerrard's penalty gave Liverpool victory over Tottenham on Sunday

From the spot: Steven Gerrard's penalty gave Liverpool victory over Tottenham on Sunday

PSG 2 Marseille 0: David Beckham edges out Joey Barton

PSG 2 Marseille 0: Beckham wins battle of Brits as Ibrahimovic downs Barton's boys

PUBLISHED:

21:48 GMT, 27 February 2013

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UPDATED:

21:48 GMT, 27 February 2013

David Beckham was given a less than warm welcome from Joey Barton but had the last laugh as Paris Saint-Germain came out on top against Marseille.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored both goals but all eyes were on Beckham as he made his first start for the French club – and Barton made his presence felt when he barged into his fellow Brit in the first half.

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring 10 minutes before the break and made sure of the victory with a second-half penalty.

Beckham was later booked but was substituted to a standing ovation with five minutes remaining.

More to follow…

Le Crunch: Joey Barton takes no prisoners as David Beckham (right) is sent flying

Le Crunch: Joey Barton takes no prisoners as David Beckham (right) is sent flying

Sore one: Beckham (right) is tackled by Marseille's midfielder Jacques Romao

Sore one: Beckham (right) is tackled by Marseille's midfielder Jacques Romao

Eyes on the prize: Beckham helped his new side to victory in the French Cup tie

Eyes on the prize: Beckham helped his new side to victory in the French Cup tie

Pass and move: Beckham showed signs of his ability on his first start for the Paris club

Pass and move: Beckham showed signs of his ability on his first start for the Paris club

Opening salvo: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores to put PSG in front against Marseille and celebrates (below)

Opening salvo: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores to put PSG in front against Marseille and celebrates (below)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates

Phil Jones and Jonny Evans injured Manchester United v Real Madrid

Ferguson facing defensive headache for Madrid after Evans and Jones are forced off

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

18:03 GMT, 10 February 2013

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UPDATED:

18:14 GMT, 10 February 2013

Manchester United's preparations for their Champions League showdown with Real Madrid have been hit by two fresh injury blows.

United face Jose Mourinho's side at the Bernabeu on Wednesday but could be without Phil Jones and Jonny Evans who were forced off with injury in United's 2-0 win over Everton at Old Trafford this afternoon.

Ferguson could now be left with a defensive headache for his side's trip to Spain.

Blow: Phil Jones was injured tackling Everton's Kevin Mirallas

Blow: Phil Jones was injured tackling Everton's Kevin Mirallas

Manchester United's Phil Jones (right) is substituted for Michael Carrick (left)

The news is unlikely to ease Ferguson's anger that United's game against Everton was played today, just three days before the crunch European clash.

'There's no fairness at all,' he said. 'It's ridiculous to think that we play on Sunday and Real Madrid play on Saturday with that extra day's rest. We're not giving our teams a chance to be successful in Europe. Leagues in other countries make sacrifices for their teams.

'It's nothing to do with the FA, it's the Premier League. They agreed a contract with TV and they're in control. It's pointless complaining about these things all the time.'

Scramble: Jonny Evans was also forced off as United won at Old Trafford

Scramble: Jonny Evans was also forced off as United won at Old Trafford

Benitez wants to keep Moses and Mikel for their cup ties against Southampton and Swansea

Benitez hoping to keep Moses and Mikel for crunch cup ties before they jet off to join Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations

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UPDATED:

15:53 GMT, 27 December 2012

Rafa Benitez wants to keep John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses for their cup ties against Southampton and Swansea before releasing them for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mikel and Moses, integral players since Benitez took control at Stamford Bridge, are in the Nigeria squad which was due to report for a pre-tournament training camp in Portugal today.

The Chelsea pair have been granted permission to stay in London until after the New Year but Benitez is negotiating to keep them for as long as possible as his team become embroiled in a cluttered fixture list.

Victor Moses celebrates scoring against Leeds in the Capital One Cup

John Obi Mikel in then Club World Cup

Africa-calling: Both Moses and Mikel have had regular first team football under interim boss Rafael Benitez

The Blues launch their defence of the FA Cup at Southampton on January 5, four days before the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at home to Swansea.

Interim manager Benitez accepts he is unlikely to have them around by the time they play Stoke in the Barclays Premier League on January 12.

'The tournament starts on the 19th, so they will go one or two weeks before,' he said.

'Maybe we can manage to keep them a little bit longer. We will talk with them. They know sometimes the players do not need to go early. But at least one week before the 19th, they have to be there.'

Benitez has several others who could fill in with Moses and Mikel gone

Options open: Benitez has several others who could fill in with Moses and Mikel gone

Nigeria’s first game of the tournament in South Africa is on Janaury 21st against Burkina Faso. The final is on February 10, four days before Chelsea are due to play in Prague in the Europa League.

Juan Mata celebrated a landmark game and goal in his Chelsea career before declaring he was hungry for even more.

Yesterday's 1-0 win at Norwich was Spain forward Mata's 50th appearance in the Barclays Premier League and came less than a season a half after he joined the Blues.

Carrow Road also witnessed his 13th goal in all competitions this term, already bettering his tally from the whole of the last campaign.

Rarely has a foreign player made such a seamless adjustment to English football as former Valencia star Mata, who has enjoyed the unwavering confidence of all three Chelsea managers he has played under.

Mata has outshone all his Chelsea teammates this campaign

Flying through the rain: Mata has outshone all his Chelsea teammates this campaign

Last season, he featured in 34 of Chelsea's 38 league games, while this term he has played a part in 16 of 18.

But
despite his 50 matches being the most of any outfield player at the
club over the same period, Mata had no intention of allowing his
team-mates to catch him up.

'I
want to play more, I want to keep playing, keep training, keep enjoying
this club and this Premier League,' he told Chelsea TV.

Modestly
describing his goals tally as 'not bad', he added: 'I'm very happy with
how it's going – the season – for me and for the team and I just have
to keep working.'

When Mata works, almost invariably so do Chelsea.

 Mata is just goal behind Fernando Torres and becoming Chelsea's to goalscorer of the season

Unstoppable: Mata is just goal behind Fernando Torres and becoming Chelsea's to goalscorer of the season

His six goals in eight games have co-incided with the club's revival under interim boss Rafael Benitez.

Mata's dip in form before that also tallied with the Chelsea slump that saw Roberto Di Matteo sacked.

Indeed,
the club were becoming too reliant on Mata's goals and assists under Di
Matteo and it is crucial they do not fall into the same trap again.

Benitez
appears to recognise the need to spread the load around the team, his
decision to move David Luiz from defence into midfield once again
proving inspired yesterday.

Mata said of the Brazilian's transformation: 'I'm not surprised.

'I know that he's a very, very good player, top player.

'He's able to play in different positions, at centre-back, in midfield.

'He's a complete football player.'

Mata stressed the importance of Chelsea keeping a clean sheet yesterday in what was only their second 1-0 win of the season.

'Our four defenders were really good,' he said.

'All the team played like a compact team, like Rafa wanted.'

He added of his goal: 'The most important thing is that it was the winning goal.'

That
winner saw Chelsea close to within four points of second-placed
Manchester City with a game in hand, while remaining 11 behind runaway
leaders Manchester United.

Mata said: 'These three points gave to us a lot of confidence to be closer to the Manchester clubs.'

Steve Clarke defends his West Ham performance

Credit crunch struck a Hammer blow when I was at West Ham, says Clarke

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 14 December 2012

Steve Clarke has defended his record working alongside Gianfranco Zola at West Ham, claiming the credit crunch was responsible for the Hammers' narrow relegation escape.

West Brom's boss will welcome Sam Allardyce to the Hawthorns on Sunday, the first time he has faced his former club as a manager in his own right.

Clarke left the East End club shortly after David Sullivan and David Gold assumed control. His first season working alongside Zola saw the Hammers finish in ninth. He remains adamant that circumstances beyond his control were responsible for the subsequent fall.

Flying high: Steve Clarke is performing well at West Brom

Flying high: Steve Clarke is performing well at West Brom

'The new owners came in, assessed what they had to do,' he said. 'And they did exactly that.

'If you look at it, we weren't making progress. The first season we finished in the top ten, the second, we didn't.

'There were extenuating circumstances for that. When Gianfranco and I went into the job it was on the promise that we would always have money to spend in the transfer window and we could try and push into the top six.

'Within a fortnight of arriving at the club, the world was hit by the credit crunch and the Icelandic owner, Bjorgolfer Gudmundsson, lost his bank.

'The circumstances changed completely. After that, there was a gradual erosion of the squad and it was an achievement just to keep West Ham in the Premier League that year.

'But the job was good for me personally because I'd come out of Chelsea where success was part and parcel of the season.

'Then I went to a club where it was more difficult, you had to find different ways to motivate players.

'You had to find different ways to get results on a Saturday, which is what we were judged upon.'

Fortune's always hiding: Clarke with Gianfranco Zola during their spell at West Ham

Fortune's always hiding: Clarke with Gianfranco Zola during their spell at West Ham

Clarke welcomes Sam Allardyce to the Black Country, saying that there is more to the Hammers than just route one football.

'I think what's been said is unfair,' he added. 'They try to be positive, try to put balls in the box and try to score gals. You can become stereotyped. I think that's the case with Sam.

'They play good football – when they are allowed to. If it needs to be a scrap, they can have that, too.

'Whatever type of game it is, they will be ready for it. But I can assure them that we will too.'

Arsene Wenger tells Stan Kroenke he wants to turn Arsenal round alone

Stay out of it Kroenke! Defiant Wenger wants to get Arsenal's season back on track without interference

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 14 December 2012

A defiant Arsene Wenger today said that he is determined to turn Arsenal's stuttering season around and does not expect any intervention from the club's board, including majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.

Arsenal suffered a crippling defeat at Bradford on Tuesday, when they were beaten on penalties in the Capital One Cup.

Wenger watched his season go from bad to worse at Valley Parade. The Gunners sit in 7th in the Premier League and are already 15 points behind leaders Manchester United after just 16 games.

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

With hopes of winning the league all but over, should Arsenal fail to bring home the FA Cup or the Champions League this season, it will be their eighth in succession without a trophy.

But Wenger has pulled Arsenal through
rough patches before, and he is determined to do so without any
intervention from Kroenke and the board.

Wenger said: ‘I am responsible for the football front, I don't expect Stan Kroenke to intervene.

‘The way to support me is to let me
do my work and do my job, I don't expect anything else. I'm very
determined and very hungry – if I wasn't I wouldn't be here.

‘I love the club, I sit here and show
how much I love the club. We have been through difficult periods before
and I know how to turn this around because I have been here 16 years.’

Wenger is looking to pick his players up at Reading on Monday evening after a difficult week, but believes he and his players should be looking forward, not back.

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

'We are top professional people. What
is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday. We
are sorry for that [Bradford] but what is important is the next game.'

'They [Reading] are a team who deserve a lot of
credit because they came up last year, for me surprisingly.

'They make it difficult for every
team in every game, so we expect a battle. Our results are quite
consistent and good away from home.

'We had a good game against West Brom [and] it’s important to confirm that in our next away game.'

The Frenchman believes his players are committed and resilient enough to bounce back from the Bradford loss.

He said: 'This team cares, is serious and wants to do well, I do not question the spirit of the team.
I believe I have a strong team.

'If you look at our season at the moment, we have not produced our performances at home, away our results are in the same bracket as the two top teams.

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

'Where we have lost the points is we made too many draws at home.

'Manchester United are top of the league, six points ahead. They have lost three games, we have lost four. We had more draws, especially at home, that is where we have lost the points.'

The Arsenal manager was also asked whether, after 16 years at the helm, he had been at the club for too long.

He said: 'I can understand people
criticise when the results are not as expected. It looks like has become
the modern way to think.

'You say that 16 years can be a handicap, but it can also be an advantage because you have experience, you love the club.

'If I sit here, it is because I have really shown how much I love his club. We have gone through difficult periods before and you know how to turn it around.'

There has also been speculation that all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry could re-join the club on loan in January, but Wenger refused to comment on the proposed move, and said: 'I cannot tell you anything about it because nothing has happened.'

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Julio Cesar desperate for early QPR return from injury against Wigan

EXCLUSIVE: QPR No 1 Cesar desperate for early return from injury ahead of crunch Wigan clash

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UPDATED:

09:44 GMT, 3 December 2012

Julio Cesar is targeting a return to first team action for Saturday’s crunch game at Wigan.

The QPR goalkeeper, who injured his abductor muscle, is ahead of schedule and wants to replace Rob Green.

Green came off the bench for the 0-0 draw at Sunderland, when Cesar was injured, and played in the 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on Saturday.

In with a shout: Injured keeper Julio Cesar hopes to return to QPR starting line-up as early as this weekend

In with a shout: Injured keeper Julio Cesar hopes to return to QPR starting line-up as early as this weekend

Brazilian Cesar, the highest profile signing of Mark Hughes' reign when he moved from Inter Milan, is desperate to play his part in the QPR revival.

Club medics still believe he may have to wait until Rangers play Fulham at home on December 15, but he wants to play before them.

He is expected to return to training towards the end of the week and will undergo a series of tests as he aims to prove himself to manager Harry Redknapp.

Green keeper: Robert Green has been deputising for the injured Cesar

Green keeper: Robert Green has been deputising for the injured Cesar

A source close to the club said: ‘He is desperate to return to action and, while it would be foolish to take a risk, he wants to play as soon as possible.

'He believes QPR can climb away from the bottom and wants to play his part.’

Cesar, 33, has played 64 times for Brazil and hopes to win back his place in the national team… once QPR begin winning games and moving away from trouble.